Sunday, February 12, 2012

Racing Now



A good political battle for the nomination is often referred to as a horse race. "We've got an old fashion horse race here," the pundits often say. Fair enough. Some of these contests are hard fought, neck and neck, with one candidate eking out a win. It would never surprise me if a photo finish was ever required to separate the winner from the rest of the pack. Not sure how that would go, but after "hanging chads" and all manner of recounts, it just seems plausible. So why not apply a few of the necessities of a good old fashion horse race to this year's Republican contest. Let's start with the way horse racing announcers speak.
Believe it or not, some of the more widely know horse racing announcers are flat out among the best entertainers out there. I'm not referring to Oaklawn Park's Frank Mirahmadi and the way he calls a race imitating everyone from Rodney Dangerfield to his fellow colleagues. Frank is great and certainly entertaining, but I'm thinking of certain words and phrases and how they might be applied to the current bizarre sideshow that is currently masking as the Republican primary in many states.
Trevor Denman of Santa Anita Racecourse is a classy guy. The native South African brings a certain elegance to his calls mostly evident in his accent. But Trevor is noted for specific phrases that raise his game. When a horse has a race all but wrapped up and there is nobody in a position to catch him, Trevor might haul out the ever popular, "They would have to sprout wings to catch him." Currently, no wing sprouting is necessary, but by the time most primaries are over, a good pair of wings might be needed by whomever is in second place. Other phrases past and present abound. Just imagine what a good political commentator could do with "Here they come spinning out of the turn" or "And down the stretch they come." Michael Wrona, a popular Aussie announcer now working at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, is not only loaded with special phrases, but he can be downright surprising at times. He's full of poetry too when the situation demands. If a horse has an unfortunate accident or spill, Wrona will call the name and then tell his audience that he's "come to grief." If he says that, and fortunately it's rare, you know it's serious. One time Wrona was calling a race in which an older mare, a real crowd favorite, was in the middle of a formidable win streak. I can't recall her name, but I'll never forget the race. Just when it looked like she was hopelessly beaten, the 9 year old found another gear and swallowed up the field with an impressive move to win going away. Wrona's call was unforgettable. "And here she comes, collaring the leaders now, what an incredible performance, she's nearly old enough to vote!"
In the end, there is only one call I want to hear. Ironically it's the one that Trevor Denman says when the starting gate opens, not anything said during the call of the race. It's how I feel about the entire crop of politicos..."And away they go."

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